Racheli offers its foreign clients full services relating to searching, filing and prosecuting Italian and Community design applications, as well as filing and cancellation proceedings against registered Community designs and defending against proceedings filed by third party.

Community Designs

Introduced in 2001, the European Community design (usually referred to as the "Community design") is a single design right which is valid in the entire territory of the European Union (28 Member States up to 2013):


Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

The Community design may consist of a design registration (RCD) valid for up to 25 years from its filing date or of an unregistered design right whose protection is limited to 3 years commencing on the date at which the design was first made available to the public.


Community Designs – Absolute Requirements

A Community design right may only exist for an industrial or hand-crafted article, including visible spare parts intended to be assembled into a complex product, packaging, get-up, graphic symbols and typographic typefaces, while excluding computer programs.


The design of the product or of a part of the product may consist of its shape or other aesthetic features composed of lines, colours, surface structure, materials and/or other ornament.   Parts of a complex product can be protected as long as they are visible during the normal use of the complex good by the end user.


Community Designs – Relative Requirements



The design must be new and have an individual character, and cannot be dictated solely by the article’s technical function.




Novelty should be assessed with respect to the absence of any identical prior designs, i.e. if their features differ only in immaterial details, made available  to the public:


(a) in the case of an unregistered Community design, before the date on which the design for

which protection is claimed has first been made available to the public;


(b) in the case of a registered Community design, before the date of filing of the application for

registration of the design for which protection is claimed, or, if priority is claimed, the date of



Individual Character


As regards the substantive requirement of individual character of the design, it shall be deemed if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has been made available to the public:


(a) in the case of an unregistered Community design, before the date on which the design for

which protection is claimed has first been made available to the public;


(b) in the case of a registered Community design, before the date of filing the application for registration or, if a priority is claimed, the date of priority.


In assessing individual character, the degree of freedom of the designer in developing the design shall be taken into consideration.



Designs which have been made available to the public by the designer / successor in title, in the year preceding the date of application, or preceding the priority date (if applicable), are not considered acts of disclosure relevant for the purpose of assessing the novelty and individual character of the design.


The date of any prior disclosure (“made available to the public”) is deemed to be when such could reasonably have become known in the normal course of business to the specialised circles operating within the Community.


Disclosure is not deemed to have occurred where the design has been made known to another person solely under conditions of confidentiality.


Also, designs which have been made available to the public by the designer / successor in title, or by any third party in abuse of the designer’s or his successor’s in title rights, in the 12 months preceding the date of application, or preceding the priority date (if applicable), are not considered acts of disclosure relevant for the purpose of assessing the novelty and individual character of the design.


Registered Community Designs

An RCD can be obtained by means of:

• a single application before the Office for the Harmonisation in the Internal Market (the "OHIM"), in Alicante, Spain; or

• designating the Community design (EM) for protection with an International Design filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization, in Geneva, Switzerland, through the applicant’s national office in the country of origin.


An unlimited number of articles in a same Locarno class of the International Classification of Designs, can be protected with a single application.

Applications can be made to the Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) through a (European) Community designs attorney; applications must be made in writing and must include the following particulars:


• number of designs, title, Locarno Class and representation of each design (up to 7 views are allowed) and/or specimen for two-dimensional designs, e.g. fabrics; no verbal description of the designs is allowed;

name and address of designer/s (not compulsory) ;

• name and address of applicant/s;

• Convention priority application, including a copy of the priority document and translation in English thereof (if applicable);

• exhibition priority (date of first disclosure - if applicable);

• request of deferment of publication (if applicable);

• signed Power of Attorney (no legalization required).


We also refer you to the Explanatory Notes on the RCD Application form, published by the OHIM on its website.

Applications are not subject to, in particular, any examination as to novelty or individual character, but may be challenged by way of an invalidity action before the OHIM or counterclaim before a Community Designs Court.


For this reason, it is always advisable to conduct prior art searches before filing an RCD application.


The OHIM usually grants the RCD’s within 3-4 months from the filing date.

The duration of protection conferred by a design registration is for a period of 5 years, renewable up to a maximum of 25 years.


The scope of the protection conferred by a registered design includes any successive design which does not produce on the informed user a different overall impression.


Unregistered Community Designs

Same formal and substantive definition as with registered designs.


The term of protection of the unregistered rights is limited to 3 years which commences on the date the design has first been made available to the public (i.e. published, exhibited, used in trade or otherwise disclosed, where these events could reasonably have become known in the normal course of business to the specialised circles operating within the Community).


Disclosure is not deemed where the design has been made known to another person solely under conditions of confidentiality.


The scope of protection is narrower than that afforded to registered designs: it is limited to goods put on the market which constitute acts of copying of the design.

The alleged infringer may oppose as a defence that the contested good results from an independent creation of a designer who may reasonably be thought not to be familiar with the design made available to the public by its owner.


According to a recent interpretation by Italian Courts, the unregistered design rights cannot be cumulated with registered design rights in an infringement claim.

Italian Designs

The Italian Industrial Property Code affords industrial design protection in accordance with the European Directive No. 98/71/EC, which has harmonized the national designs laws of EU Member States.


Under Italian law a copyright may also vest in works of designs that, in addition to being original, must also have artistic value, which therefore sets the threshold of protection to works only of the highest level of creativity.


International Designs

The protection for a design can also be obtained for Italy and some other countries by filing a single application called “International Deposit for Industrial Design” with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

There are currently 58 Contracting Parties that are signatories of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, including the European Union (EM).

For more information on International Design registrations, we invite you to consult the following web address:





RACHELI S.r.l. CONSULENTI IN PROPRIETA' INTELLETTUALE - CONSULTANTS IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY - Tel. +39.02.480681 - Fax. +39.02.48008343 +39.02.48002648 - E-mail: racheli@racheli.it - Cod. Fisc. P.IVA - VAT REG. N. 09899330154

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